Jaclyn Diaz

Updated at 5:00 p.m. ET

Russian hackers working for the Kremlin are believed to be behind breaches of U.S. government computer systems at the departments of Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security that may have lasted months before they were discovered, according to U.S. officials and media reports.

Updated at 11:15 a.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris defeated Donald Trump twice this year: once at the polls and again for Time's Person of the Year.

Time's choice to name Biden and Harris over Trump, who was also shortlisted, marks the first time a president-elect and vice president-elect have appeared together on a Person of the Year cover. Harris is also the first vice president-elect to get the designation.

Brandon Bernard, convicted for his involvement in the brutal murder of two youth ministers in 1999, was executed Thursday evening after failed eleventh-hour appeals from criminal justice advocates and celebrities, including Kim Kardashian West, to spare his life.

He was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m. from a lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Center in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Historians for Johns Hopkins University discovered that the founder of the Baltimore-based school owned slaves, contrary to the long-held belief that the wealthy philanthropist was a staunch abolitionist.

Researchers Martha S. Jones and Allison Seyler made the discovery after delving into previously undiscovered government census records as part of a university-led project on the school's history.

Rudy Giuliani has left the hospital following treatment for COVID-19, days after his coronavirus diagnosis was made public in a tweet by President Trump.

Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, was spotted Wednesday evening leaving Georgetown University Hospital. He flashed a thumbs up sign out of his car's passenger-side window as he passed reporters.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Alabama on Wednesday, saying unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the state's men's prisons violate the Constitution.

The DOJ says Alabama's prison system fails to provide adequate protection from prisoner-on-prisoner violence, sexual abuse and excessive force at the hands of prison staff.

Regulators in the United Kingdom are warning people with a history of severe allergies not to get the new coronavirus vaccine.

The advisory comes after two National Health Services employees, both with a history of severe allergies, had bad reactions after receiving the new Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine Tuesday, the first day of the U.K.'s nationwide immunization campaign.

Health officials in the United Arab Emirates announced Wednesday that a Chinese vaccine provides 86% efficacy against COVID-19 infection.

Subsequently, the UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention officially pushed for a registration of the Sinopharm vaccine following several health agencies' analysis of late-stage trials in the country, officials said in a release on the state-run WAM news agency.

Margaret Keenan, a grandmother of four, made history Tuesday after getting a potentially lifesaving birthday present.

With one shot — or "jab" as Britons might say — Keenan, who turns 91 next week, officially launched the United Kingdom's nationwide coronavirus immunization campaign — the largest such effort in its history.

Brenton Tarrant, the man who carried out last year's deadly assaults on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was able to amass an arsenal of weapons without alerting authorities, whose focus was on potential threats from Islamist terrorism rather than right-wing extremism, according to a new report.

Citing an "uncontrolled spread" of coronavirus across 75 of its communities, the Navajo Nation expanded its current lockdown by three weeks in an attempt to clamp down on the spread of the virus.

The order, a continuation of the Nov. 16 mandate, remains in place from Monday until Dec. 28. The government previously ordered a lockdown for the nation of over 170,000 between March and August.

Houston police said they rescued 26 people from a human smuggling operation Thursday after discovering them in a home located less than a five minute's walk from an elementary school.

Police said they were alerted to the scene after they received a report of a man running down a street yelling that he had been kidnapped.

When officers arrived, the man said nearly 30 others were being held hostage in a nearby house.

Authorities in Bangladesh are pushing ahead with the relocation of tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, despite concerns raised by human rights groups and the United Nations.

On Thursday, the first group of about 1,500 Rohingya were placed aboard several navy vessels heading toward to Bhashan Char, located about 120 miles south of the capital, Dhaka.

Who better to promote a product than a former president? How about three?

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are willing to lend their star power for a good cause, saying this week that they would publicly take a coronavirus vaccine, once it's available in the U.S., to encourage skeptical Americans to do the same.

Obama said that if Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, thought the vaccine was safe and effective, then he would get his shot.

Updated Thursday at 11:20 a.m. ET

More than 100,000 Americans are in the hospital with COVID-19, at the same time the nation recorded its worst daily death toll since the start of the pandemic.

Data from the COVID Tracking Project show 100,226 people were hospitalized on Wednesday with the disease caused by the coronavirus — a figure that has been steadily rising for weeks.

Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET

President Trump is threatening to veto a critical defense spending bill unless Congress agrees to repeal a liability shield for social media companies.

The president tweeted late Tuesday that Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act is "a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity."

Section 230 provides legal protection for technology companies over content from third parties and users. Trump referred to the provision as a "liability shielding gift" to "Big Tech."

Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET

The U.K. has formally approved Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first Western country to OK its use for the general public.

The British regulatory agency, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority, or MHRA, announced early Wednesday the approval of the vaccine from Pfizer and the German company BioNTech for emergency use. The vaccine promises up to 95% protection against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The captain of a dive boat that caught fire last year off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., was indicted Tuesday on 34 counts of negligent manslaughter.

Thirty-three passengers and one crew member died during the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2019, when a fast moving fire broke out on the 75-foot Conception. The boat was docked off Santa Cruz Island for a chartered three-day diving trip.

An armed gang launched an early morning attack on a southern Brazilian city Tuesday. The group methodically set up road blocks before going on a bank robbing and hostage-taking spree that ended in a gunfight with police.

The men attacked the Southern Brazilian city of Criciúma, located more than 800 miles south of Rio de Janeiro, and robbed several banks early Tuesday morning. Two people, one a police officer, were injured during the siege.

The coronavirus was present in the U.S. weeks earlier than scientists and public health officials previously thought, and before cases in China were publicly identified, according to a new government study published Monday.

The virus and the illness that it causes, COVID-19, were first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, but it wasn't until about Jan. 20 that the first confirmed COVID-19 case, from a traveler returning from China, was found in the U.S.

Police searched the home and offices of the personal doctor of deceased soccer legend Diego Maradona, amid questions over his medical treatment.

Argentine prosecutors announced Sunday they are investigating the death of Maradona as well as his personal doctor, Leopoldo Luque, five days after the former player's death.

Paris' top prosecutor has filed preliminary charges against four police officers in connection with the beating of a Black man earlier this month.

French prosecutor Remy Heitz announced Sunday that he is asking that three of the four police officers remain in custody. A fourth, who arrived after the beating of Michel Zecler, will be conditionally released.

An Australian professor detained in Iran for 804 days for espionage has returned home following a reported swap for three Iranians jailed abroad.

In statements shared on social media, Kylie Moore-Gilbert thanked Australian officials and supporters who worked "tirelessly" to get her home.

Six U.S. oil executives held for three years in Venezuela were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms Thursday.

Known as the Citgo 6, the men are all employees of the Houston-based refining company of the same name, which is owned by Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA.

Five of the men, Gustavo Cárdenas, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano and Alirio Zambrano, and Tomeu Vadell, all U.S. citizens, were sentenced to eight years and 10 months. Jose Pereira, a permanent resident of the U.S., received 13 years, The Associated Press reports.

Germany is extending its current coronavirus lockdown measures through mid-December, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced this week.

The country will remain under measures introduced in early November that include limits on private gatherings and it will keep bars, restaurants, and museums closed.

Residents will be given some leeway around the Christmas holiday. Members of one household can meet up with 10 people between Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. Children under 14 are exempt.

Updated at 3:27 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas designated coronavirus hot spots, in a decision released just before midnight on Wednesday.

Russia says it caught a U.S. Navy ship illegally operating in Russian waters in the Sea of Japan and "chased off" the offending ship on Tuesday.

The area in question has been claimed by Russia as part of its territorial waters since 1984, but the U.S. does not recognize that claim.

Updated at 2:20 a.m. ET

David Dinkins, New York City's only African American mayor, died Monday night at 93.

Dinkins led New York in the early 1990s as its mayor, a position he called "the greatest job there is."

Dinkins' office operations manager, Lynda Hamilton, confirmed his death to NPR early Tuesday.

Updated at 5:03 a.m. ET

International travelers heading to England could cut their mandatory quarantine time by more than half under new rules announced by the British government Tuesday.

Starting Dec. 15, certain travelers could cut their 14-day mandatory quarantine down to five days if they take a COVID-19 test and the results are negative.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is raising concerns with the leaders of the world's wealthiest countries that when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, poorer countries could miss out.

Speaking on Sunday during a two-day virtual G20 global summit, Merkel said progress toward developing a system for distribution to less wealthy countries has been slow and that she would raise the issue with the global vaccine alliance, GAVI.

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